Continuing to work through my first CSA box (which was kale, three artichokes, an acorn squash, a butternut squash, romano beans, sunchokes, and good eggs):
I just joined a weekly CSA: an excuse to start up a rotating few-friends Tuesday dinner party to use some of it while it’s especially fresh:
Top: a bit of good ribeye steak.
Bottom: a kale, sunchoke, romano bean, onion, and quinoa hash loosely inspired by this online recipe. This turned out quite well– better than usual for messing around in the kitchen. Basically, each ingredient got cooked/boiled separately until just-barely-done, the boiled sunchokes got sliced thin and fried in some butter, then everything else got added to them. Salt and pepper were the only seasonings.
Quite a day at work, so treating myself to: steak (Five Dot Ranch ribeye w/ salt and pepper, seared on each side in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop, then cooked in the oven in the same skillet at 500F to the hairy edge of medium-rare), padrone peppers fried in olive oil, kale and spinach (lightly steamed), some good tomatoes (Happy Boy dry-farmed, sweet), and a special Russian River Damnation-Ale-aged-with-oak-chips. Yes.
After so many frites, I needed a salad break, so:
Kale shallow-blanched (a few inches of salted water for about 7 minutes), with green zebra tomatoes, radishes, feta, and roasted tomatillo salsa (purple tomatillos broiled in the oven about 10 minutes, then blended with the juice of a lemon, salt, pepper, a minced shallot, and a pinch of cayenne powder– I would have used a fresh or roasted green chili of some sort if I’d had one).
Not actually that great– too acidic, and not satisfying without meat or a grain.
I sauteed some fresh ginger and moroccan spice in peanut oil, then added crookneck squash, coated it in the spiced oil, and cooked for about 5 minutes. In parallel, I boiled the wide flat beans for a few minutes (they turned bright green). I added the drained beans to the squash for a minute, emptied them onto a plate, then fried a duck egg in the oil left over in the pan. I served them with lemon and avocado. Not bad!
 Included by Powell’s with my recent book order. Dulcet brand, a mix of turmeric, salt, paprika, cayenne, pepper, saffron, and other spices (I mainly tasted the turmeric, salt, and a bit of heat).
 Overflow from a friend’s garden.
 A friend was out of town so I picked up his CSA this week.
 Free from work. Long story.
This is the first time I’ve made a dinner for friends with courses each paired with / inspired by a specific beer. Some of them worked well together, some didn’t, but it was a good evening overall.
Appetizers: a slightly bitter, slightly floral beer (Upright Flora Rustica) with a collection of snacks: bread, cheese (Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam), radishes, fresh-pickled fennel (an interesting concept), Boccalone orange-fennel salami and pepper salami, salted almonds, and three kinds of pickled carrots (carrots pickled for a week with dill, vinegar, and salt, carrot quick pickles (overnight with lots of vinegar, mustard seed, cloves), and some Happy Girl spicy carrot pickles I bought).
The most vinegar-heavy pickles overwhelmed the beer (and the beer didn’t have the same hint of jalapeno it did when I’d had it on tap in Portland), but the rest of the food seemed to go reasonably well with it, especially the fennel salami and pickled fennel.
My favorite course: a salad of mixed greens + roasted stonefruit (peaches and black plums, still warm) + a little fresh mint + a ricotta that didn’t turn out the way I expected (I tried to make it with 1 pint whole milk, 1 pint heavy cream, 1 tsp salt: brought to a boil, 3 Tbsp lemon juice added, then simmered to curdle.. but it never fully curdled (did the cream interfere somehow? were the lemons not acidic enough?), so it ended up soft and creamy) + a dressing of balsamic vinegar reduced with agave syrup. We were still drinking the Flora Rustica, which worked quite well with the fruit.
Black bean soup generally based on the Cooks Illustrated New Best Recipe version: dry beans and a diced onion boiled for a few hours with a ham hock and bay leaves and a little beer until beans were soft, the ham hock and bay leaves removed and the meat from the hock shredded and returned to the pot, then a separately-sauteed sofrito (onions, garlic, red bell pepper, oregano, cumin, smoked paprika, chipotle flakes, salt) added to the pot for about 20 minutes. I made this the night before and reheated it the day of the dinner. Cilantro and lime juice added just as it was served.
This was paired with Upright Billy the Mountain, which turned out to be a rather… challenging beer– a very tart and woody barrel-aged old ale, about 9% alcohol but not at all sweet like a barleywine. Whew. Interesting, but I’m not sure I’d do that again.
Pre-dessert: my second attempt at fresh ricotta (simple: 1 qt whole milk + 1 tsp salt, brought to a light boil, then 1.5 Tbsp white vinegar added, simmered a few minutes until the curds separated, strained for an hour in cheesecloth): bright, fresh, and sweet, with a nice texture. Served with Pannepot 2010, a delicious slightly sweet / musky / lightly spiced ale I’d had in Belgium but had never seen in the US until I came across it at City Beer Store (apparently they get it very occasionally). A good combination.
Official dessert– honey lavender ice cream from Bi-Rite, paired with Russian River Supplication (a sour ale fermented with brit and lots of cherries). The Supplication was actually not as acidic or difficult as the Billy the Mountain, and while strong, worked well with the ice cream (especially, a bit of ice cream after each sip of beer).
Then as our post-dinner digestif/nightcap/whatever: some Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast (an oatmeal stout brewed with coffee).
Success! Time to go lay down and do the final clean-up tomorrow.